Hark! An #OpenEd18 Reflection

Last week the Open Education Conference was held in Niagara Falls, New York. I am going to hark back on my experience there for my third post of the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 Reflective Writing Challenge.

I had a barrel of fun, but I am going to reflect on things I wish I did differently while there. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the last three Open Education Conferences. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet and become friends with many people in the community. I get excited to see them and eager to catch up.

So here is the first thing I wish I did differently: I wish I did not skip the speed networking that followed Jess Mitchell’s very, very wonderful keynote on the opening day. And I wasn’t the only OpenEd “veteran” to do so. In my haste to see some people I already knew, I missed the chance to connect and help people newer to the movement. I could be a helpful node in your Open Education network, and I missed a chance to offer that help. Maybe it’s not too late though, if you’re reading this and want to connect, please do!

OpenEd is truly full of people who would LOVE to chat with anyone interested, would LOVE to bring more people in to the fold. It’s been billed as the family reunion of Open Education. Which can be great, but can also seem like a club that is hard to get in to. And “club members” may say that you just need to say hi and we are happy to get to know you, but that is intimidating, and frankly kind of hard to pick the right time when someone you want to meet is deeply engrossed with catching up with an old friend. I will do better to offer up my network connectivity status to others in the future.

Another thing I wish I’d done differently is a more long-term missing out. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to truly recognize the importance of Wikipedia in Open Education. I got the opportunity to try to contribute a little bit to Wikipedia in an edit-a-thon run by Bonnie Stewart and Amy Collier. The prep work that went in to this was unbelievable.

The simplest (simple, but not easy) way to introduce a non-disposable assignment to your class was sitting right there the whole time! Add to Wikipedia. Believe me, the process is academic as heck. As Robert Cummings said in his session on teaching with Wikipedia: (paraphrasing here) Academic writing is too often writing what you think and then finding things to support that. Wikipedia writing flips that so that you are working  with nothing but truth. This is probably so obvious to most, but I’ve been busy looking at other ways to embed open in our teaching and learning. Wikipedia was just too “already there” for me to think hard enough about. Not anymore. So what I wish I did differently at #OpenEd18 is to learn more directly from Amy Collier and Bonnie Stewart about how to Wikipedia while I was in the same room as them. Luckily though, Daniel Lynds is hard core and has already pushed me to meet with him on a regular basis going forward to finish what we started.

Which takes me to the final thing that I wish I did differently while there.  I wish I thought and acted more directly about what to do next. Make not just connections, but plans to connect and take action. It all comes at you so fast, but making solid plans to do something with someone holds more weight when you make those plans in person. I saw others taking action. Ken Bauer and Joe Murphy promised to complete their patches of The Open Faculty Patchbook for me (woot woot!). It’s not like I have no plans, I just wish I made more direct plans with people while I was there. A couple things I did nail down is that I will be interviewing Billy Meinke for my podcast and helping Ken Bauer with the Virtually Connecting podcast! NICE.

We can make a huge impact with each other. Maybe it would be cool to try to have a daily theme at a future conference. Day One, helping newcomers feel welcome and connected, Day Two: normal conference day stuff, Day three: plan for action together. And sprinkled all throughout, making connections to those who couldn’t be there a la Virtually Connecting.

We’re going to need a really big barrel to fit us all in together as we go over the falls.

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

3 thoughts on “Hark! An #OpenEd18 Reflection”

  1. Sounds like you had a fabulous time. So happy there was some Wikipedia activities on tap. Keep on editing those Wikipedia pages! Once to get the bug, it’s hard to stop. Everytime I visit the site I find I take a minute or two to edit something, even if it is adding punctuation or fixing a spelling mistake. Also, if you take photos, add those to the Wikipedia Commons. They could always use photos and images for articles.

  2. Great report, Terry. I’m sorry not to have seen it earlier, but thankfully there’s this Web phenomenon called the long tail….

    Speaking of Wikipedia, you might want to check out wikiedu.org, an extraordinary resource for anyone wanting to weave Wikipedia work into their teaching. Take a look. I joined up last semester and found the work transformative for me and for my students (you can read some of their responses at https://rampages.us/mythfolk18).

    Did I mention that the services at wikiedu.org are free?

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